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LITERARY    LIFE                        255

care, a true friend in trouble, a model madame who was not
jealous of her rival, and finally a high official somewhat in love
with his own power and glory. These are some of the elements
in the Chinese drama on which the public are fed, the same
elements that make moving pictures like Way Down East and
Over the Hill great popular hits in China. They also show the
Chinese as a profoundly emotional people, with a weakness for
sentimental plots.


Chinese novelists were afraid to let people know that they
could condescend to such a thing as the writing of novels.
Take the case of a comparatively recent work, Tehsao Paoyen>
written by Hsia Erhming in the eighteenth century. He wrote
very original essays and beautiful poetry, and many travel and
biographical sketches like all conventional scholars, now col-
lected in Huanyilhsienchi. But he also wrote the Tehsao Paqyen,
and his authorship of this novel can be proved beyond a doubt
through poems and essays in his collected works. However, as
late as the autumn of 1890 his dutiful great-grandson reprinted
the Huanyuhsienchi in order to perpetuate Hsia's name, but he
dared not or would not, anyway did not, include the novel,
incontrovertibly Hsia's best work, in the list of his literary
works. Only as late as 1917 did Dr. Hu Shih definitely establish
and clarify the authorship of the Red Chamber Dream as written
by Ts'ao Hsiiehch'in, undoubtedly one of the greatest, if not
the greatest master of Chinese prose (in pehhua). We still do not
know who was the true author ofCkinp'inmei (Gold-Vase-Plum),
and we are still in doubt as to which of the two alleged authors,
Shih Nai-an or Lo Kuanchung, was the author of All Men
Are Brothers.

Characteristic of this attitude toward the novel are the
beginning and ending of the Red Chamber Dream. A Taoist
monk found the story inscribed on a huge rock, which was the
extra one left behind by the legendary goddess Ntiwo when she
was using 36,500 rocks to mend a huge crack in the sky,
caused by a terrific fight of "Olympian" giants. This rock was